Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review: A Nostalgic Trip Through Gaming History

Nintendo just brought to Switch three key-masterpieces for any Mario collector after so many rumors and fans’ requests. This collection of Super Mario 3D All-Stars includes Super Mario 64, native to Nintendo 64 (1997), Super Mario Sunshine from Game Cube (2002), and Super Mario Galaxy from Wii (2007).

No Mario collection will ever be complete without three of its icons on each of Nintendo’s videogame systems, and I’ll tell you why. Moreover, I will also add a short synopsis of each game, as not all enthusiasts were born before that Mario fever of the 80s / 90s.

Super Mario 64

In Super Mario 64, Princess Peach invites Mario to her Castle. However, when he gets there, the princess is nowhere to be seen. It’s is practically empty, with paintings everywhere that take us to different levels. You can explore it and unlock wings and more secret levels to collect stars and finally save the princess from Bowser’s clutches. The levels have several goals: collecting coins, defeating bosses, or even races, so you have to go through them several times.

At first glance, Super Mario 64 may look like a bunch of polygonal potatoes. Still, it was an excellent game that, back in its time, pioneered graphics and gameplay, eventually influencing the world of games as we know it.

One of the most iconic and simple features of Super Mario 64 is the goofy interaction with Mario in the main menu, where, I bet, there is not a single soul on this planet that hasn’t pulled Mario’s ears!

Even so, Super Mario 64 had few noticeable improvements: it is not as blurred as in the original resolution, but the 4:3 format remained. It’s basically the same game on a new system, with these black cutouts around the screen.

Regarding the graphics, I have a slightly mixed opinion. On the one hand, I grew up with this game, and I don’t care that much that the quality isn’t as sharp as today’s super-realistic games. Especially because it’s a collection and an icon, you can see Mario titles’ path until Super Mario Odyssey. On the other hand, and for these reasons, Super Mario 64 deserved a more careful and user-friendly port.

About the controls: the camera’s Y-axis is inverted, which can cause some confusion or even spoil the gaming experience for those who are not used to it. Personally, I’m used to the inverted camera, so I didn’t care at all because most of the old games I played had the Y inverted.

Super Mario 64 is a direct port of the Nintendo 64 version. Since the joysticks were a little different then, I ran into some issues: trouble getting around objects, turning the camera around, and performing some stunts, which was more evident later in the game. Still, revisiting this setting was a good experience.

This port of the Shindou version fixed the exploits speed runners used in the original game, which means this version won’t be suitable to achieve competitive times in this modality. Furthermore, it doesn’t include any Nintendo 3DS remake features, in which it was possible to play with other characters, such as Yoshi or Luigi.

Super Mario Sunshine

Nobody can imagine how much I wanted Sunshine on Switch. It is one of those games that was already impressive for its gameplay, concepts, and graphics.

In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario and Peach and their crew of Toads decide to take a vacation but have a troubled landing on the tropical Island Delfino. A mysterious shadow, who looks like Mario, polluted the whole landscape, leaving the island in the dark. Mario is mistaken for him and arrested. Fludd, a smart water jetpack species, is the focal point of this game, making the adventure a lot of fun, as it is central to mobility and challenge solving throughout the narrative.

Super Mario Sunshine has had a more significant improvement. The cut-scenes are still blurred, like in the original game, but the resolution, while maintaining the original edges, has been improved to 1080p and works very well on Switch in any mode.

The map is semi-open; that is, you can visit several points at the beginning. You need to collect shine sprites to unlock perks and new areas. Hence, Mario will be able to rid the island Delfino of all the gooey paint and retrieve the light and the island’s icon by defeating Bowser.

There were some less positive aspects, like some places where the camera is stuck, and I couldn’t have a decent angle to do certain maneuvers. But still, it is a pleasant way to retrieve the original gaming experience.

Super Mario Galaxy

In Super Mario Galaxy, when Mario thought he could enjoy the Star Festival with Princess Peach, Bowser kidnaps her and takes her into space. Mario will have to travel through several planets and galaxies, with all kinds of platform challenges familiar to us in the Mario style. It was also on Galaxy that Rosalina was introduced to the story before joining other Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart titles. Rosalina guides Mario through the cosmos, looking for more stars and star fragments to help him save Peach.

Super Mario Galaxy (no pun intended) is the star of this collection. With an HD version, it’s the game out of all three that was visually more captivating, in a style that was already stunning, with that fantastic soundtrack that I missed so much.

Galaxy ended up being, in 2007, a showcase of the potential of Wii and WiiMote, and today, on Switch, it doesn’t disappoint and does the same thing. The controls and camera, in general, work well and have been well adapted. There is also a small variation in the commands; in handheld mode, you use Touch-screen to shoot or collect stars, whereas in TV Mode, you use motions. There are also specific levels that require the use of motions.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is essential from a historical point of view, not only for new but also returning players. It brings together in one system (plus the Online Service NES and SNES games) virtually all icons that paved Mario’s way toward his adventures as they are today. Besides, the soundtracks of all three titles are available on the menu.

Playing these three classic games again was a good dose of nostalgia, in particular, because of the duality of the Switch TV / Handheld modes.

For some reason, Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be available until March 2021.

Notes: Game kindly provided by Nintendo Portugal
Post in collaboration with Moshbit.

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Marti Silvestre

Marti Silvestre

aka Marti McWrite

▸ Narrative Explorer
▸ Literary and Gaming Analyst

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